Water Bowl vs. Water Bottle Battle: Which One Is Better for Guinea Pigs?

Should you give your pet a water bowl or should you buy them a water bottle? Which one is better? This is the question that many pet parents are asking themselves. Well, I researched the topic thoroughly and this is what I found.

Water bottles are preferred by most owners and experts as the best way to provide clean, fresh water to guinea pigs. However, water bowls are a safe alternative if your guinea pig is elderly, injured, or simply dislikes using water bottles.

Guinea pigs need to drink lots of water to stay healthy, and the options can be overwhelming.  In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of both water bowls and water bottles for guinea pigs – based on what works best for you and your piggie.

I’ll also provide real-world data from other pet parents to help you make the decision of bottles vs. bowls as easy and stress free as possible. 

How The Guinea Pig Water Bowls And Water Bottles Will Be Judged

When you think about if a water bottle or water bowl is best for your guinea pig, you need to consider different factors.   

However, there are certain factors  you should at least consider when making your choice:

  • User Preference: What do the guinea pigs (and you) prefer to use?
  • Ease of Use:  Does it take a long time to set up?  Are there design quirks that make it hard to use? 
  • Maintenance:  Is the design durable? What effort is necessary to keep it in working safely?
  • Cost: Is it budget friendly?
  • Cleanliness: How clean will it keep the water and cage?

In order to help you make your decision, I’ll lay out the benefits and drawbacks for each one.  

Let’s dive in…

Round 1: User Preference (Humans & Guinea Pigs)

Do piggies and their pet parents agree on the best type of water source? Where do everyone’s preferences lie when it comes to water bowls compared to bottles? Let’s find out.

Do Pet Parents Prefer Giving Their Guinea Pigs a Water Bowl or a Water Bottle?

Comparisons are key. So, I spent two weeks scouring the Internet to find information on this topic.

In the end (just before my eyes started to cross and glaze over), I polled 1,106 owners about whether they used bowls and bottles (and why). 

This is what I found:

Typically, guinea pig owners prefer giving their guinea pigs water bottles. The main reasons cited is that water bottles are cleaner and more sanitary than bowls.

Now, this doesn’t mean that bowls aren’t safe; pet parents just have to work a little bit harder to keep them that way.

Take a a peek at the data below.

water bottle and water bowls graphic
  • 779 (70.4%) used water bottles
  • 203 (18.4%) used water bowls
  • 113 (10.2%) used both
  • 11 used a hybrid, dispenser water container

My original thought that most owners would use water bottles, which is was correct.

When I examined the data, I found a big surprise:

A number of pet parents used both: bowls and bottles. That extra data increased the number of pet parents who preferred (or used) bowls as well as the number of bottle users.

Funnily enough, when only used bottles with my fur babies and they did well with them: water consumption was never an issue. It never occurred to me to use both.

That’s why I like to include a slew of real-world data collection for articles like this.

Whoa! Slow down there, little buddy.

Do Guinea Pigs Prefer Water Bowls Or Water Bottles?

Typically, guinea pigs prefer water bottles over water bowls. A study in Switzerland, showed that –when given a choice – most guinea pigs prefer drinking from water bottles. The chewing motions required to drink the water from the spout make the piggies likelier to drink and provide a type of enrichment – let’s hear it for piggie fun!

An article from the Manual of Exotic Practice states that a majority of guinea pigs will accept water from a water bottle – a good sign.

Additionally, the results of my poll show that 70.4% of piggies are enjoying water from water bottles.

And that doesn’t include the piggies that are offered both!

???? NOTE:

After examining the data and statements from pet parents in the investigation, I came to a few conclusions.

  • If pet parents are using solely bottles, then their piggies prefer (and use) them.
  • Pet parents who use both either have multiple piggies that prefer different types of water sources OR the pet parents want to make sure that they offer both to increase the odds of their pets drinking something.
  • Although not as popular as water bottles, water bowls are popular (and preferred) by a significant amount of guinea pigs.

Round 2: Ease of Use

When considering the convenience of water bowls and bottles, it’s best to look at two factors:

  • How easy is it for humans to use
  • How easy is it for your piggies to use

Easy for Humans?

Water bowls are easy to use.  

Pour the water, plop it in the cage, pet your piggie:

Boom. Done.

(And off to hand sew some pineapple – patterned fleece liners for your little friends)

Water bottle use is… 

A little more challenging.

To many pet parents, it seems that:

  1. Making sure the water bottle is securely fastened to your piggie’s cage can feel like you’re diffusing a pipe bomb in a wheeking-infused, time-loop. 
  2. Attempting to assemble a “leak-proof” water bottle into a final product that (seriously) doesn’t leak mutates devoted owners into bleary-eyed, “I’m-smart-why-can’t-I-do-this?” shells of human beings who’d rather sit in a dark corner shoving fistfuls of Doritos into their mouths instead of even thinking about a water bottle.

???? Tips & Tricks:

If the fasteners that came with your bottle give you any trouble, try one of the following alternatives: Use velcro strips or zip ties (or any other type you may find that might keep the water bottle securely attached to the cage).  P.S. Go with velcro strips.  They’re mega easy to detach and reattach.

It’s fascinating because most pet parents use water bottles.  

After a while, most owners find their own secret “that-shouldn’t-be-so-secret” sauce to hanging water bottles properly.  And how to prevent their water bottles from leaking (as much).

Or pet parents simply find clever solutions to cope with the occasional drips.

Did You Know?

It’s almost impossible to find a water bottle that’s completely leak-proof.  Don’t get me wrong. There are some amazing water bottle choices out there. However it’s likelier to find one that will leak occasionally.  And even the ones that don’t leak will do so eventually. Likely because of design failures or user error –  from you or your piggies.

Easy for Piggies?

Let’s circle back to the research study showed that guinea pigs preferred using water bottles instead of bowls.

If the guinea pigs in the study (and a slew of piggies in real life!) constantly choose bottles over bowls, it stand to reason that using a bottle is easier for them.

After all, why would so many piggies choose the more difficult option to get water?

However:

While water bottles are an easy drinking option for your average, healthy piggie, there are exceptions:

Water bowls can be easier for:

  • Guinea pigs who have mobility issues. As piggies get older (like us)  they suffer from arthritis and stiff joints that make it hard to reach for water bottles
  • Baby guinea pigs who are so little that  they can’t reach the water bottle.
  • Guinea pigs who are not very coordinated.
  • Guinea pigs that have never been trained to use a water bottle (it happens).
  • Guinea pigs with teeth issues.
  • For guinea pigs that are recovering  from surgery or illness.

Water bowls more closely simulate a natural guinea pig environment.  There guinea pigs would bend over and drink water from a puddle or stream. 

(No drinking from stainless steel spouts in the wild. )

And yet:

The data from my research showed that most (healthy) guinea pigs are comfortable using water bottles. Anecdotal evidence shows that even baby guinea pigs easily use water bottles (if they get a tutorial from an older guinea pig or a caring pet parent, that is).

???? TIE!

Round 3: Cleanliness

For this round, let’s focus on the cleanliness of the water inside the bowl or bottle as well as the the tidiness of the cage. 

water bowl versus water bottle for guinea pigs - which one is better?

Water Cleanliness

Water bottles have the advantage in terms of water cleanliness – without a doubt.

The water inside a bottle stays relatively clean until the water bottle is removed, rinsed, and refilled for the day.  I say relatively, because some piggies love clogging up their spouts (little stinkers!) and some food particles can end up as floaties in the bottle .

Nevertheless:

That’s nothing compared to how filthy water can get if you use bowls.  Bedding, urine, and droppings inevitably end up floating in whatever bowls or cups you use.  

We’re talking serious poop soup. 

Unless you have seriously tidy piggies…

(And some of you do.  Lucky!)

Plan on cleaning and refilling the bowls two to four times a day.  You’ve gotta keep the water source sanitary if you want your guinea pigs to stay healthy 

???? Tips & Tricks:

Regardless of what container you use, it must be cleaned and refilled with fresh water daily.  

Cage Tidiness

Bowls and bottles will have your piggies cage looking like a Florida coastline after hurricane season.

Mischevious piggies can (do and will!) tip over water bowls. 

Water bottles can spring Titanic-sized leaks.

When this happens , you’re left with a soggy mess to clean up. And you have to clean it up thoroughly.

Piggies can get nasty illnesses from damp bedding like bumblefoot. Bumblefoot is an inflammation of the skin of the foot. You don’t want your piggies to get it.

???? Tips & Tricks:

Whether using water bowls or water bottles, prepare for leaks and spills. Remember to use shallow, heavy bowls and containers or use a container that can be anchored to the cage. If you use bottles, place a small brick or small, terracotta plate under the spout. Also, practice sealing the bottle appropriately. You don’t want the bottle to leak, but make sure your piggie can easily suck water out of it.

???? WINNER: Water Bottles

Round 4: Maintenance 

We’re going to focus on two factors:

  • difficulty to clean
  • how long before it needs to be replaced

The most important thing for guinea pigs when drinking from any container or bowl is cleanliness! This means washing both water bottles and water bowls regularly is a must. 

Let’s get started:

Bowl, bottle, glass or plastic, it needs to be cleaned:  

Frequently.

So, which one makes life easier for you: bowls or bottles?

With water bowls clean up is a breeze (a rinse and scrub!).  It doesn’t take much time or talent to get the job done.  Just make sure that any dish soap that you use is rinsed out thoroughly.  If it’s not, your piggie could get sick. 

Water bottles, on the other hand, require more work: scrubbing out all of that guinea pig backwash and debris is not exactly my idea of a good time!

???? Tips & Tricks:

  • Distilled, white vinegar mixed with water (½ and ½ ) make a fantastic cleaning solution for bowls and bottles. Just make sure that you rinse and dry them thoroughly.
  • Make water bottle cleaning in a snap by using a cup of rice (or dry macaroni).  Yep! Just toss some into the bottle with some hot water (not too hot) and shake away.  While you’re giving the bottle a shake, use your hand to cover the hole of your bottle – don’t screw on the spout.  It’s a nightmare getting rice out of the grooves of it.

Both options must be checked daily for design failures and issues that could be disastrous for your fur babies.

  • Bowls should be checked for chips and cracks.
  • Inspect bottles for clogged spouts and excessive leaks.

Check out this video on How to Fix a Leaky Water Bottle:

⚠️Warning

Have at least two water bowls or bottles in your guinea pig’s cage. That way if one malfunctions, your piggies will still have access to drinking water.

Additional Techniques to Avoid Bottle Leaks and Drips

  • Technique #1 (leave a little) : Here’s trick for plastic bottles. When you’re filling it, leave a little room at the top. Put spout back on and squeeze until water nearly comes out of it. Then turn the bottle upside down and let go- that should suck any air bubbles from inside of your bottle, avoiding leaks.
  • Technique #2 (fill ‘er up) : Fill the bottle to the literal brim (like it’s about to spill over) – forcing the air out creates a suction needed to keep it from dripping. Screw on that spout, and then (still upside down) squeeze until water almost shoots out of it. Do that to create the seal that you’re looking for! Then flip it over and listen for that gurgling noise that let’s you know you’re good-to-go.

If you try both of these techniques and the bottle still won’t hold the seal, then the spout or gasket might be dirty and needs to be cleaned. Use a a toothbrush, Q-tips, or pipe-cleaners to clean them at least once a week.

If all else fails, here’s a website that should help you with your bottle leaking woes.

Did You Know?

Some guinea pig owners swear by using glass water bottles more than plastic ones. In my research, most said that glass bottles usually don’t leak as much as plastic ones. Other benefits mentioned included: are easier to clean and more durable. The final reason why owners would rather use glass instead of plastic is that it doesn’t leach chemicals into the water like a lot plastics do (buy BPA free)!

????WINNER: Water bowl

Round 5: Cost

water bottle vs water bowl

Water bowls are inexpensive so it’s not hard on the wallet if your pet decides that he doesn’t like them or kicks it out of his cage in protest.  

(Hey!  It could happen.  You know those piggies can get an attitude faster than you can say: “wheek”).  

Also, water bowls come in different colors which can be fun for some pet parents!

Most water bottles are budget-friendly. However,  you might end up buying several (until you get to that magical one that won’t leak) before you find one with minimal drips. Those costs add up.

???? Tips & Tricks:

In a pinch, you can get creative with your piggie’s water bowl choices and save a little more money.  Some people have used square Pyrex dishes, ramekin bowls, and glass pie pans. Also, plastic water bottles are usually cheaper than glass.

????WINNER: Water bowl

Water Bottle and Bowls Use: Trips and Tricks

The more you know, the better you’ll be able to take care of your Guinea pigs.  These tricks will help you make water bowls or water bottles work for your guinea pigs.

???? Water BOTTLES

  • Invest in drinking spouts that are appropriately sized for your piggies,  so that guinea pigs don’t struggle with the opening.
  • Pick up high-quality stainless steel (or glass) bottle as well.
  • Place your water bottle at the shoulder height of your guinea pig, so that they’re able to reach it easily
  • Keep the water bottle in a place that is not too hot or cold, as this can affect your guinea pig’s health

???? Water BOWLS

  • Invest in a water bowl with an elevated edge, so that they’re able to reach it easily 
  • Place your bowls at the shoulder height of guinea pigs. This will make them more likely drink from their dish instead if drinking out on floor or off other surfaces (which can lead bacteria and germs).
  • Make sure that the bowl has a non slip surface so that it doesn’t slide around when they’re drinking
  • Fill the bowl with enough water to last your guinea pig for a day. If you have multiple pigs, make sure there is more than one dish in their cage

Frequently Asked Questions: Water Bowls vs. Water Bottles

How Much Water Do Guinea Pigs Need To Drink Each Day? 

Guinea pigs need to drink water every day.  The general rule is that guinea pigs should drink to at least one ounce (or about 100 ml) per 2 pounds (or 1 kilogram) of body weight every 24 hours .

For example: if your guinea pig weighs two pounds then he or she needs roughly 100mls of water each day. Piggies also get hydration from any veggies they eat, so take that into consideration as well.

Below you’ll find a table of rough estimates of how much water a guinea pig should consume. It’s really not as much as you’d think!

Guinea Pig Weight (lbs)Water in MillilitersWater in Ounces
1lb50ml1.65oz
2lb100ml3.3 oz
4lb200ml6.6 oz
water bottle vs water bowl

How to Teach Guinea Pigs to Use a Water Bottle?

There are a couple of tricks that you can try to entice your guinea pig to use a water bottle. Take a peek at some of the options below:

  • Try putting the veggies directly underneath the water bottle.
  • Try hanging some leaf lettuce, cucumbers, parsley etc. on the drinking spout. That will help to attract their attention.
  • Take the bottle off the cage and hold it up to them. See if they get the general idea.
  • Get a drop of water on your fingertip by taping the nozzle. Then show it to them. Do this several times, so they realize the water is coming from the bottle.

How Can You Teach a Guinea Pig To Use a Water Bowl?

This is a question that many people have asked, and there are some different ways to teach them. 

  • One way is by giving your piggies a bite of treat (something that sinks in water: like a strawberry) and then tossing it into the bowl. Hopefully, your piggie will go to grab it and realize that the water in the bowl can be swallowed, too!
  • Increase the amount of hay that you give your piggies and slightly decrease the amount of veggies. Guinea pigs are likelier to want more water when they’re eating more hay. Then bring your piggie near the bowl, cup your hand with a little water, and see if they understand that the idea is for them to drink from it.
  • You can also try putting food near where you want your piggie drinking. For example: put her favorite treat next to the side so when she goes towards her snack, she might get thirsty and be tempted to drink from the water bowl. 

Why Isn’t My Guinea Pig Drinking Water? 

There are several different factors to consider. If your guinea pig isn’t drinking water, it is often a sign that:

  • they are not feeling well
  • they are stressed, afraid or anxious
  • they’re unable (or unwilling) to use the water source you’ve provided.
  • they’re receiving hydration from their vegetables
Possible IssuePotential Solution
Not feeling well Have a vet examine your piggie to rule out underlying health issues
Stressed, afraid, or anxiousMake sure that your guinea pig’s environment is as comfortable and stress free as possible (e.g. provide hideys, a huge cage, chew toys for stimulation); If unused to a new place, some guinea pigs refuse to eat or drink  – this usually corrects itself as they become used to their new home
Unable to use the water source you’ve providedGuinea pigs want to use the water source that they’re most comfortable with; figure out what that is and provide it or work on teaching your piggie how to use the new water source
Water bottle is malfunctioningTest to see if water comes out (roll the steel ball around with the tip of your finger)
They’re receiving the bulk of the hydration from veggiesIf you’re feeding your piggie a lot of veggies, they’re not going to be thirsty for water.  Try cutting back on the vegetables, provide more hay (always a good thing!) and see what happens

The last major issue is probably the most nerve wracking for pet parents.

While doing research for this post, I found that 92 pet parents out of 1,106 stated that their piggie (or piggies) didn’t “drink” water .

But, all of them reported that their guinea pigs were happy and healthy.

If you feel like your guinea pig isn’t drinking enough water (or you don’t see her drinking), ask yourself if she seems healthy in every other way – active, good appetite, exploring, etc. If she is, then you’re likely worrying over nothing.

As always, if you have any serious concerns, contact your vet as soon as possible.

⚠️Warning

Some owners decide to give their piggies Vitamin C drops in their water. This sometimes changes the taste of the water and makes piggies reluctant to drink. I’d advice to avoid doing anything that might change the taste of the water.

Water Bottle vs. Water Bowls: Who Is The Champion?

Let’s recap:

We compared water bottles and bowls based on the following factors:

  • Maintenance
  • Ease of Use
  • Cleanliness
  • Cost
  • User Preference

Now that you have a better idea of the difference between bottles and bowls the real question is… which one is better?

For you and your guinea pigs.

For almost every pet parent, I recommend using water bottles.

If you have healthy guinea pig (who doesn’t torment you by playing in his water bottles), then water bottles are for you.

Water bottles, tick the major boxes of providing sanitary water to your piggies without becoming a time suck to you. And water bottles aren’t much more expensive than bowls.

Once you’ve mastered how to make a bottle (relatively leak-proof), choosing water bottles over bowls makes the most sense.

Unless:

You have piggies:

  • that honestly prefer using water bowls (or a mix where some enjoy bottles and other enjoy bowls).
  • have never been trained to use bottles and your training efforts have failed
  • who physically can’t use bottles due to illness or age

From the research, most pet parents are either going the all-in with water bottles or taking the “better-safe-than-sorry” approach by using bowls and bottles.

Your final decision will be whichever option is best suited to your piggies individual needs, and there’s no need feel guilty about picking one over the other!

Or go with both. Lots of pet parents do – you can always switch later.

If you’d like to make a change in the future, you’re not locked into either choice.

There’s freedom in flexibility.

And, as a good pet parent, you have to be flexible to meet the needs of your fur babies.

Can Guinea pigs drink from a bowl. (2020, August 20). Healthy Animal Food. https://healthyanimalfood.com/can-guinea-pigs-drink-from-a-bowl/

Giving fluids | Arizona exotics | -Guinea pigs resources. (n.d.). Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital | Veterinary care for exotic pets in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert AZ. https://azeah.com/guinea-pigs/giving-fluids

Guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) drinking preferences: Do nipple drinkers compensate for behaviourally deficient diets? (n.d.). PubMed.

Guinea pig pododermatitis (bumblefoot, sore hocks). (2020, September 3). Veterinary Practice | The UK’s leading monthly veterinary publication. https://veterinary-practice.com/article/guinea-pig-pododermatitis-bumblefoot-sore-hocks

Guinea pigs – Exotic and laboratory animals – Merck veterinary manual. (n.d.). Merck Veterinary Manual. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/exotic-and-laboratory-animals/rodents/guinea-pigs

Gurney, P. (2011). Guinea pig: A practical guide to caring for your Guinea pig. Collins.

Pellman, K. (2015). Guinea Pig Care: The Essential Guide to Ownership, Care, & Training for Your Pet.

Protect Guinea pigs from summer heat! (2019, August 13). FOUR PAWS International – Animal Welfare Organisation. https://www.four-paws.org/our-stories/publications-guides/protect-guinea-pigs-from-summer-heat

Understanding pet water bottles. (n.d.). Revival Animal Health. https://www.revivalanimal.com/pet-health/understanding-water-bottles/learning-center

Similar Posts